Copenhagen lessons

DQW Bureau
New Update


The Copenhagen Summit is over and the next summit is still far from sight.

So, what has been the effect of the summit and what serious actions have nations

and companies taken? Whether companies and the Indian government made the right

noise still remains a big question. So, in view of all these perspectives, it's

time to put the moves of various authorities under the scanner.

Indian Hues

India has been participating in various global meetings that have been held

post the Copenhagen Summit to try and move towards a consensus so that a fair,

ambitious and binding global deal can be reached in December 2010, in Mexico

City, that will limit global warming to 2° C, as necessary. Locally, India has

set up an expert group housed in the Planning Commission that will prepare an

action plan to move India towards a low carbon economy, which will be

implemented during the 12th Five Year Plan.

“As part of this Plan, India aims to cut emissions intensity by 20-25 percent

by 2020 on the 2005 levels. As part of this target, India is also committing to

a very ambitious plan on clean energy sources,” informed Nisha Agrawal, CEO,

Oxfam India. India's current emission level is 1.1 tonne per capita per year and

if India has to reduce emission by 20 percent then it has to work out a 0.22 per

capita per year decrease till 2020. Whereas, if the same is compared with that

of the US whose current level stands at 20 per capita per year, which if treated

to 20 percent reduction will result to four tonne per capita per year, is

comparitively higher.


According to Kishore Butani, Founder, said, “India and

other emerging economies are being asked to make larger emission cuts than

normal. A global deal is now unlikely at the next big climate conference in

Cancun at the end of this year. The US was to pass a climate bill, but that too

is stuck at the drafting stage. So all these factors mean that Indian renewable

energy developers, are not sure about the viability of their carbon credits sale

post 2012.”

Government Support

The Government of India in various forums and in its communication to United

Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has made it clear that

it supports the Copenhagen Accord but looks at it as a step towards

strengthening the Kyoto Protocol and the UNFCCC and not as a substitute to the

two track process.

Apart from that India, China, Brazil and South Africa have decided to reopen the

climate debate at a special session in Brazil in June.


The EU and the US want India to announce some adherence measures, which

includes monitoring and verification of cuts in GHG emissions, but the US

currently has no carbon legislation in place.Environment ministers of the BASIC

countries-namely, Brazil, South Africa, India and China-have said that a legally

binding global agreement to limit climate change is needed to be completed by

2011, and have now said that they are not willing to wait for the US to announce

some legislation. Butani added, “Remember that the Kyoto carbon market is a

success story for Indian companies and this was accomplished without the US on

board. The world should now move ahead with or without the US, since the US has

never and will never enter the compliance carbon market.”

Under the Scanner

The reaction to the Copenhagen Summit can be broadly classified as that of

inaction and action. Inaction can be described on the part of the Environment

Ministry as a statement was issued but there have been not much happenings on

the companies' front and even the country as a whole. In other words, there has

been a sort of non-commitment towards making things legally binding. Though the

government has said that they will reduce carbon footprint by 20 percent but no

steps have been taken in this direction to make it legally binding.

“In fact there have been no specific goals set by corporates from any sector.

But if you consider IT companies in the Europe, the US, etc, they have set

internal targets for themselves that are in line with the country's target,”

informed Akash Chander, Lead Business Development and Head, Sustainability

Initiative, Logica India. “In fact cheaper and greener technology should be made

available to companies in all nations. Availability of technology at reasonable

costs for India will enable to bring down emissions in an altruistic manner,”

explained Chander.


Currently, in India no specific action has been taken on this front. No

internal goals have been set but more diligence has been adopted by the

government while approving large or major projects. Even the government has not

made specific moves. Tax benefits and subsidies are being offered but this is

not an outcome of the summit but it existed beforehand.

The Road Ahead

According to Butani, “When the carbon market expires in 2012, and if there

is no new market post 2012, exporters from India and China could be subject to a

carbon tax when supplying goods to the EU.” Though, India will continue to

engage the US and EU in climate change talks, but will take a leaf out of China

when it comes to acting on climate change. India plans to launch a public

database of the country's worst polluters, as being done by China.

Shilpa shanbag

Source: DQ